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Review Article

What are the radiological predictors of functional outcome following fractures of the distal radius?

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The fracture most commonly treated by orthopaedic surgeons is that of the distal radius. However, as yet there is no consensus on what constitutes an ‘acceptable’ radiological position before or after treatment. This should be defined as the position that will predict good function in the majority of cases. In this paper we review the radiological indices that can be measured in fractures of the distal radius and try to identify potential predictors of functional outcome. In patients likely to have high functional demands, we recommend that the articular reconstruction be achieved with less than 2 mm of gap or step-off, the radius be restored to within 2 mm of its normal length, and that carpal alignment be restored. The ultimate aim of treatment is a pain-free, mobile wrist joint without functional limitation.

Correspondence should be sent to Professor M. M. McQueen; e-mail: mmcqueen@staffmail.ed.ac.uk

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